Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Opportunity knocks: A new delay in the launch of a Russian weather satellite illustrates the need that small satellite owners have for their own rocket.
The planned mid-December launch of a Russian Soyuz/Fregat rocket carrying a Russian weather satellite and a half-dozen small satellites for British, Norwegian and Canadian customers has been delayed again, to late February, following the latest series of issues with the main satellite payload, industry officials said. The delay, which is not the first for this launch, illustrates the immutable reality confronted by owners of small satellites manifested as secondary payloads: You launch at the convenience of the principal passenger, and not before.
If there was a small rocket available for these small satellites, not only would they flock to it, the number of small satellite customers would probably skyrocket, as the only thing preventing the funding of many nanosats is the lack of the launcher.
On another note, the technical delays for this Russian satellite and its rocket once again highlight the quality control problems within the Russian aerospace industry.